Title: Standard Deviation
Author: Katherine Heiny
Publisher: HarperCollins UK – 4th Estate
A rueful, funny examination of love, marriage, infidelity, and origami. Simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking, this sensational debut will appeal to fans of David Nicholls, Nick Hornby, Nora Ephron and Lorrie Moore
Graham Cavanaugh’s second wife, Audra, is everything his first wife was not. She considers herself privileged to live in the age of the hair towel, talks non-stop through her epidural, labour and delivery, invites the doorman to move in and the eccentric members of their son’s Origami Club to Thanksgiving. She is charming and spontaneous and fun but life with her can be exhausting.
In the midst of the day-to-day difficulties and delights of marriage and raising a child with Asperger’s, his first wife, Elspeth, reenters Graham’s life. Former spouses are hard to categorize – are they friends, enemies, old flames, or just people who know you really, really well? Graham starts to wonder: How can anyone love two such different women? Did he make the right choice? Is there a right choice?
Standard Deviation is a funny, heart warming and, at times, poignant story of love, friendships and family life. It focuses on Graham, in his fifties with a younger second wife, Audra – the mother of his child, Matthew, who has Aspergers.
Audra is so hard to ‘sum up’ because she’s such an effervescent, fun person: quirky, likeable, and very chatty, but also at times incredibly frustrating! I absolutely loved reading about her but could completely see why living with her could drive Graham mad sometimes, as they’re so different in many ways and she doesn’t always make the best decisions… But then, neither does Graham, as this book proves.
The story is so lovely with some emotional parts too. It’s largely made up of elements of everyday life – perhaps not your everyday life, as the reader, but what is for some people every day life – and told in such a funny, entertaining way and mostly from Graham’s point of view. The very different characters and their very different lives combine to create a narrative that completely drew me in and left me wanting to read more. I felt like I’d really got to know the characters and, on the whole, really liked them. There was no need for high drama; the elements of everyday life (with some temptation and difficulties thrown in along the way) is enough for this novel. It’s just fantastic!
Standard Deviation made me smile countless times, and laugh out loud even more! The characters stayed in my mind even after finishing the book, and I would happily read much more about them. A truly great, refreshing read which I’d highly recommend!
Many thanks to 4th Estate (HarperCollins UK) for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.